Understanding entry requirements

We're here to support you.

We can help you make sense of university entry requirements and how to apply them in your own context. We can also guide you on how to plug any gaps in learning to help you get to where you want to be.

As far as we are concerned, everything is within reach if you’re willing to put in the work.

Before we get started

To start with, we would recommend writing a list of the qualifications you currently hold. Try to locate copies of any certification to provide evidence, as admissions teams may ask for this.

It is important to note at this stage that there are many institutions offering courses in a variety of formats such:

  • Part-time
  • Distance or online
  • Integrated masters
  • Full-time courses offering foundation years, years abroad or a year in industry.

Each course will have its own set of recommended entry requirements. These are set by universities and sometimes associated organisations (such as Health and Care Practitioners Council (HCPC) for some Health subjects) and outline a level of understanding to help students to gain the most out of their studies.

UCAS is a great place to start your university research. They have full course listings for all institutions, providing information on entry requirements and much more. Once you’ve had a chance to have a look at the requirements for any course(s) you’re interested in taking, you may have questions about where to plug any gaps on qualifications. Don’t forget you can contact admissions departments directly on admissions@uea.ac.uk, or get in touch with Gemma, Mature Student Officer at maturestudents@uea.ac.uk.

Many universities will ask you to hold a GCSE or equivalent in Math and English Language. It is important to look at the entry requirements for any course you may be interested in to understand where you can fulfil those requirements and avoid unnecessary disappointment.

If you’re missing these requirements, you can take a look at your local council’s website to see what adult education provision is on offer. For example, at Norfolk County Council, Wensum Lodge provide a host of different courses both in person and online including Functional Skills level 2 in Math and English Language (as well as a huge range of courses). Many local colleges will also offer lessons in functional skills, ESOL and GCSE subjects.

Admissions teams also treat iGCSEs as they would a typical GCSE, and payment for these can be made in instalments across an academic year. Any providers like National Extension College provide effective distance and online GCSE and A-level courses to help make up any of these requirements.

If you hold qualifications and are unable to locate evidence of this (i.e. have lost your certification), you can find guidance on how to get a replacement exam certificate.

Universities will take into consideration a variety of pathways to study. When you review entry requirements, make note of any specific requirements asked of you (for example, Nursing or Health subjects may ask you to have a qualification in a health, care or sport related subject).

If you’re missing any of these requirements, it’s worth noting that you can explore completing an Access to Higher Education diploma, validated by Cambridge Access Validation Agency (CAVA). These qualifications can be taken at a local college offering this provision, or from an online provider. These courses are designed to provide you with important subject insight to help you gain skills and knowledge, as well as helping you with the process of applying to university.

If you’re interested in starting a course, you have the choice on whether you complete this online or through a local college, most of which will offer Access courses and support. You can find further information on the following websites:

Access to HE


It’s worth noting that some university’s ask for tariff points instead of grades, like we do at UEA. The UCAS tariff point calculator is a great tool to utilise in case you’d like to see how you fair.

Pathways into university

This video has been put together to help you with your research. Covering ways to gain access to higher education through to understanding entry requirements, this video aims to give insight to support you with your next steps.